Animal Fat to Biodiesel

Austin Texas is home to lots of discrete manufacturing businesses with companies such as Dell, IBM, Samsung, Freescale, Advanced Micro Devices, etc. to name a few. It’s not historically known for process manufacturing, which I shorthand describe as “stuff flowing through pipes.”

Home to the Process Systems and Solutions business, which provides systems and services to process manufacturers, it’s not common to see coverage of our business in the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman.

Given this background, a lot of folks around here were excited to see the article, Austin company part of new fat-fuel project–Emerson’s systems will run plant that will make synthetic diesel out of animal fat in last Friday’s business section. The article describes the project:

A company called Dynamic Fuels is building a $138 million factory in Louisiana that will turn animal fat into high-grade synthetic diesel and potentially even jet fuel. The company says it is the first commercial-scale synthetic diesel plant in North America.

The plant is designed to produce 75 million gallons of:

…very-low-emission synthetic diesel from chicken, beef, and pork fats…

Emerson’s Al Novak, whom you may recall from earlier posts, was quoted:

The plants are oftentimes part refinery, chemical plant, pharmaceutical facility and brewery… The amount of automation and controls in a pilot-scale biofuels plant may be 10 times greater (per amount of production) than a conventional large-scale chemical plant or refinery.

The first generation of biodiesel plants was largely based on soybean oil as the feedstock. These next-generation plants based on animal fat feedstocks are said to have lower production costs and

…be nearly free of sulfur and other impurities found in petroleum-based diesel.

The basic process was described in the article as starting with the triglycerides and fatty acids from the animal fat, removing contaminants, stripping oxygen from the fat using hydrogen, creating diesel and other fuels by rearranging the atoms inside the molecule (isomerization), and finally distilling the components into separate fuels.

For those planning on going to the September 28-October 2, 2009 Emerson Exchange conference in Orlando, Al along with Secure Energy co-founder, Jack Kenny, and Mike McAdams, president of the Advanced BioFuels Association will host an Alternative Fuels and Energy industry forum. The panel will discuss some of the legislative background, challenges with the production process, and the trials of commercializing an advanced fuel or energy project.

Make sure to read the article, attend this industry forum, or see a video of Al describing alternative fuel production if you have interest in this growing area of process manufacturing.

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One comment so far

  1. Philbilly Deluxe says:

    I would love to see a plant such as this here in Ontario Canada.

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